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Men in Black III


After a 10-year absence, the men in black finally make a comeback. This is the third installment in the MIB franchise, and I sure hope as hell it won't be the last.

Men in Black now ranks as my second favorite alien franchise, next only to Doctor Who. Some people might be asking, "Wait, I thought you liked Star Wars?" Yes, I do love Star Wars. But you have to understand first that when I say "alien", I don't mean "sci-fi". There's a difference.

"There is?"

Star Wars is sci-fi. Dune is sci-fi. Star Trek is alien. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is alien. Get the difference?

When I say "alien", I mean something that still involves human Earthlings and the planet Earth. Do you have the planet Earth in the Star Wars universe? No, you don't. Is Han Solo a human Earthling? No, he isn't (he's a human Corellian).

Anyway, 10 years is a long time, and a lot of changes have taken place in MIB headquarters. First, Zed's dead (nice rhyme). Second, the new director (I assume that's what the highest MIB officer is called) is O (Emma Thompson), and she gives a hilarious eulogy to her predecessor.

"Is it funnier because of my British accent?"

And third, there are a lot of new aliens posing as Earthlings, among them Lady Gaga, David Beckham, and Yao Ming.

You might remember the previous MIB films to have beautiful babes in them. The first MIB had Linda Fiorentino. MIB II had Lara Flynn Boyle and Rosario Dawson. This third film has none (the young O may be pretty, but she's not my type), except of course for Nicole Scherzinger, who had a total screen time of around 5 minutes, maybe even less. Apparently, Ms. Scherzinger is too hot for space.

You can fire my big gun anytime, baby.

Anyway, to make up for its lack of ladies, this film introduces us to something even better than intergalactic aliens─time travel. Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to 1969, which is the time of the moon landing, and the time when Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) looked like Josh Brolin. Yet despite everything being retro, the MIB gadgets seem to have gotten way cooler than their 2012 counterparts.

Like this, for instance.

The production design for the 1969 scenes were excellent, although they could've used a bit more screen time, just to give us an authentic time travel experience (although it was perfect as it was, why am I even complaining?). There are also a lot of time travel inconsistencies, glaringly noticeable especially to fans of time travel. The film also introduces a new concept: the undercover MIB agent posing as an alien. And who else would be the perfect choice to pull that off but the great Andy Warhol. A human masquerading as an alien is actually more insane than an alien masquerading as a human.

But Warhol looks more alien than human.

What really makes this film worth watching are the excellent performances. Of course, you have Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but I don't even need to discuss them. The best performances here come from:

1. Josh Brolin
Young Agent K

His face is already starting to look like wood.

Brolin's performance alone makes this film worth every cent you shelled out. He's nailed everything about Agent K, from the inflections to the mannerisms. I wouldn't actually be surprised if he looks like Tommy Lee Jones when he grows old.

2. Michael Stuhlbarg
Griffin the Archanan

What's up with the low-res photo, Internet?

You might recognize Stuhlbarg as the Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire, or as the film scholar Rene Tabard from Hugo. And if you've seen him in those two roles, then you will appreciate what a great actor Stuhlbarg is. If you don't understand the concept of parallel universes and alternate futures, then perhaps Michael Stuhlbarg's performance will give you a rough idea.

3. Jemaine Clement
Boris the Animal

He also gets to kiss Nicole Scherzinger. Lucky bastard.

At first glance, you'd think Boris the Animal (actually, it's just "Boris") is played by Macho Man Randy Savage. Then you realize Randy Savage is dead. And then you find out that the actor underneath all those prosthetics is actually the same guy in Flight of the Conchords. I know, right?

Despite its time travel inconsistencies, MIB III still retains its light, comic book-feel. Good thing it's still director Barry Sonnenfeld at the helm, making this film something I wouldn't mind watching over and over again. What this movie will attempt to answer, more than "What happened to K?", is the question "How did K end up a surly old man?" And viewers might be surprised to find out that the J-K connection might even reach farther back than you thought.

Men in Black III. USA. 2012.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.


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